Voodoo Lily, Corpse Lily, Devil Tongue, Etc.
Amorphophallus Blume ex Decne. is the correct and accepted name for the genus. The genus was described by Joseph Decaisne in Nouvelles Annales du Museum d’Histoire Naturelle (Paris) in 1834. The genus was named earlier by Carl Ludwig von Blume and Mr. Decaisne wrote about it using Mr. Blume’s description.
Mr. Decaisne started working as a gardener at the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle (a French museum of natural history) in 1824 and became the head of the carré des semis section in 1832. He also worked at the Jardin des Plantes.
As of 11-13-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 237 species in the Amorphophallus genus. It is a member of the plant family Araceae with 139 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
I will add species information when I decide what species this plant is. More than likely it is Amorphophallus konjac.
Depending on what species you are talking about, there are many common names including Voodoo Lily, Corpse Flower, Devil’s Tongue, Snake Plant, Zaminkand, etc. There are just a few species that are popular and widely available, so that will narrow the search down quite a bit. I will just have to wait until it flowers.
I was given my Amorphophallus by the owner of Wagler’s Greenhouse in July 2017. We have exchanged many plants since I moved back to the farm in 2013. When I was there in July in 2017 with my sister I saw she had several of these so I picked out the pot with two plants plus an Oxalis triangularis as an extra bonus. Mrs. Wagler happily said I could have one and I happily accepted. Well, I had just taken her 4 different Alocasia that day and we have traded many plants before. I don’t remember what she called this plant but it wasn’t a Voodoo Lily or any name I heard before. She also said her mom had several when she was growing up. I had a Dracunculus when I was in Mississippi but it was dormant when I left and I forgot all about it! I really should get another one of those, too.
The pot had two plants growing it plus the Oxalis. There is also what appears to be an old stem of some sort in the middle of the pot.
Voodoo Lily is a name given to several species in the Amorphophallus, Dracunculus, Sauromatum and Typhonium genera. They are all members of the Araceae family of aroids. Different species of Amorphophallus have different-looking petioles.
The name Amorphophallus comes from the Greek word “amorphos” which means “without form or misshapen” and the word “phallos” means “penis” which is in reference to the shape of the spadix.
There is A LOT of information about this genus and various species on the internet, so I am not going into great detail. Information on Wikipedia is a good place to start. Plant Delights usually has a good selection of plants.
Each corm produces one petiole. All that growth in the above photo is actually ONE leaf. Well, that is the short of it.
OK, I will try to explain. The corm is basically the underground stem. The corm disappears as the petiole and leaves grow then a new one is produced. What looks like a stem is called a petiole. As with other Aroids, like Alocasia and Colocasia, the leaf is attached to the petiole at the “axis”.
Even though that looks like there are several branches with many leaves, it is actually one divided single leaf. The “branches” are called “rachis”. From the rachis grow the “leaflets”.
SO, until my Amorphophallus flowers, I have no idea what species it is. Since I just received it this year, I don’t have much experience with it so hopefully, it will survive and do well. Maybe even when it flowers I will still have no idea. 🙂
The leaf on some species of Amorphophallus can get quite huge such as with the Amorphophallus titanum (Titan Arum). It is the largest and stinkiest Arum on earth. Actually, the Titan Arum has the largest inflorescence of any plant on earth.
By the time temps started getting cooler, one of the plants went dormant… The “stem” or whatever it is in the center of the pot never did anything but sit there. It looks like a bulb with a little green sprout.
The other plant went dormant soon after the first one. Well, I guess that’s it for 2017. I put the pot in the basement to store for the winter. Hopefully, they will survive and we will see what happens when spring arrives. You can see the other bulb pretty well in the center of the pot in this photo.
The Oxalis started coming up soon after I moved the pots outside but there was no sign of the Amorphophallus. The rhizome, or whatever it is, in the center of the pot is the same as it was all last summer. So, after being patient long enough…
I ran my fingers through the potting soil to see what I could find. Low and behold I found a corm and it was sprouting.
I dug around a little more and found the other one. What I found strange last year was this mystery plant (rhizome) in the middle of the pot with no plant. It remained there all summer and winter with no change. It didn’t rot, either. You can see it here in the photo. It looked like it was starting to green up, though.
This curious looking creature is next to the Oxalis… What do you think it is? When I first saw it before I thought maybe it was an Oxalis bulb. But I am wondering… Could it be? Maybe it is an Amorphophallus flower coming up. That would be AWESOME!
Out of curiosity, I pulled the old bulb up to have a look. Well, GEE WHIZ! It had no roots! Once I pulled the stem out I could tell the bulb that needed to be in the soil was on top. Many aroids do this. They grow a new bulb on top of the old one, including the Colocasia esculenta. So, I pushed the whole thing into the soil down to where the top was covered up. Hmmm. Come to think about it, the little bulb on top looks like a miniature Colocasia esculenta bulb. I wonder how old that stem is?
I think I found maybe four Amorphophallus bulbs plus the strange one. I wasn’t sure if I should put them all in different pots or leave them all in the same one. So, I decided to just space them out somewhat
The “unknown” bulb that was in the center came up first and it turned out to be a Colocasia esculenta. I thought that was very strange. Why would someone put a Colocasia esculenta in a pot with Amorphophallus? So, I put it in its own pot. I certainly didn’t want a Colocasia in the pot with the Amorphophallus. Three of the Amorphophallus were coming up, one that I hadn’t found before.
I was hoping these were going to be flowers. I don’t know how old Amorphophallus has to be before it flowers, so this was going to be interesting.
Ummm… On May 10 there were six.
That’s two more I thought I had.
What is weird is that there were two big Amorphophallus in 2017 now there is only one… And a bunch of babies…
Well, the Amorphophallus are doing very well, but no flowers.
The above photo was taken on June 24.
Even though there are no flowers, the Amorphophallus is really doing well. If they are happy, I am happy. I was just surprised at how many there were considering there were only two last year.
I started to have a worse problem with the Japanese Beetles. Not only were they eating the leaves on the Chinese Elm tree, they started munching on the Amorphophallus and pot of Calla next to it. I should have taken photos before I chased them away. Hmmm… Now, in this photo, there are two big plants…
You can see the holes they ate in the leaves on the above photo.
Other than that, the Amorphophallus continued to do well and the smaller plants are really starting to grow.
I have been wondering if I should remove all the smaller plants and put them in their own pot.
When the above photo was taken on June 2, I think I counted a total of 11 plants. Some are very small and don’t have leaves yet.
On July 2 I decided enough was enough and moved the Amorphophallus and Calla to the side porch. Not only were the Japanese Beetles chewing on the other plants now, but the light to part shade area behind the shed had also pretty much turned into full sun.
I moved the biggest plant table with the potted plants to the front porch and moved all the plants except for most of the cactus. The cactus are on a table on the south side of the shed.
I made a little mistake and left the Amorphophallus in this same pot they were growing in last year without changing the potting soil. So, the fertilizer ran out… I think that may be why their leaves are a paler green now instead or dark green. I either need to add fertilizer or remove all the plants and change the soil. I think I will probably put the smaller plants in their own pots.
RE-POTTING THE AMORPHOPHALLUS
On July 16 I decided to do something about all the Amorphophallus plants in this pot. I have no idea if this is “allowed” or not at this time of the year, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. I am not an Aroid expert, so I have a good excuse if I screw up.
Common sense just seems to tell me there are too many plants in this pot. Total, besides the Oxalis, there are 11. The Oxalis didn’t appreciate being moved to the side porch in more sun.
When a plant is in a pot you can’t see what its root system looks like, of course. You never know if there aren’t many roots and all the soil falls off, or if there are a lot of roots and everything comes out nice and clean. In the above photo, you can see there are plenty of roots and everything came out perfectly well.
Then the question was, “Ummm…?” I lightly pulled on the stems on one of the smaller plants and it was in there pretty good… So, I realized this was not going to be as easy and I thought. Sometimes smaller plants with not much of a root system will pull right out, as with Alocasia.
These little guys were anchored in pretty good! I accidentally broke the first one off. So, I started running my fingers through the roots to see if I could get them separated and get the plants loosened up a bit so I could pull them out.
The second one came out better. The third one had even more roots!
Some of their roots were so long that they had to be broken off a little to get the plants out. Normally it is OK to trim the roots anyway since they will go back. It is a lot easier to trim the rooms than try and put them all in the pot. I used to not trim the roots, but after so many years of re-potting plants, I learned it is perfectly fine and doesn’t hurt the plants. They don’t bleed.
After I separated all the smaller plants, I left the two bigger Amorphophallus together just like they were in the beginning (as I bought them in 2017).
I also left the Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae in the pot where it had always been.
Ummm… I found another mystery bulb. Well, it doesn’t exactly look like the Amorphophallus bulbs did in the spring, but this is likely from the stem I broke off in the beginning. The WHOOPS! 🙂
I found this Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae rhizome so I stuck it back in the pot. I added fresh soil with timed-release fertilizer to the big pot.
Looks like a big happy family to me…
So, after starting with two plants in 2017, there are now eleven…
I moved the Amorphophallus to the front porch after I removed all the smaller plants.
The smaller plant that I accidentally broke off of the corm must have grown roots because I can’t tell it from any of the other plants.
We had a very good summer. When cooler temperatures came, the Amorphophallus went dormant and I moved all the potted plants into the house.
Last winter I kept the pot in the basement over the winter, but last fall the Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae didn’t go dormant, so I put the pot in the front bedroom. It stays pretty cool in there anyway. The Oxalis continued growing all winter even though I didn’t water it that much. I didn’t want to rot the Amorphophallus corms…
Sometime in May, I ran my fingers through the potting soil to see if the Amorphophallus corms had sprouted. They had sprouted but it wasn’t until June 3 when I saw them peeking through the soil. We had lingering cool temperatures and that was probably the reason it was taking so long. I had thought about separating the two corms, but I didn’t get around to it.
Every day it seemed like they were growing a little.
Still growing by June 15.
Then I noticed the leaf beginning to show on June 16…
I really hadn’t paid much attention, then when I was taking photos on June 22 I was shocked at how much they had grown! They were just shy of 20″. After only 20 days, it had grown to 20″ (it was only about 6″ tall just six days earlier… That’s 14″ in just 4 days! The proof is in the photos!
I also noticed one small corm had come up on 6-22-19. There were nine last year so I am sure there will be more.
The two larger Amorphophallus came up again in 2020 but still NO flowers. I keep saying need to remove the two larger bulbs and put them in separate pots but I still haven’t done that. The Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae is also doing very well. It doesn’t even go dormant during the winter as long s I water it a little.
The Amorphophallus produced a few offsets but I didn’t even get them removed… Well, there is always 2021. 🙂
I have been needing to put the two Amorphophallus and Oxalis in their own pots for a few years so I decided April 4 (Easter) was a good time. I also wanted to see how big the Amorphophallus bulbs had gotten (and how many new ones there were). I was surprised by the amount of Oxalis triangularis subsp. papilionaceae rhizomes that were in the pot. Once I removed the Oxalis rhizomes, I had to hunt for the Amorphophallus… I should have taken a photo of how deep they were… I ran my hands through the potting soil and removed the smaller corms but the two larger ones were nearly all the way at the bottom of the pot. I knew they were probably 6″ or so below the surface…
Besides the two larger Amorphophallus bulbs, there were seven small ones.
I was surprised the two larger bulbs, corms or whatever you call them, were only 2″ in diameter… I thought they would be maybe twice that size by now. But, this is actually the first time I have seen them since I brought the pot home in 2017.
So, I found two pots of the same size, 8 1/2″ tall x 9″ diameter, for the larger corms. I put a few inches of potting soil in the bottom of the pots, centered the corms with the sprout on top, then filled within an inch or s from the top of the rim.
You can get on several sites online to learn how to plant Amorphophallus corms and so many tell you different things. With so many opinions it may leave you confused. Previously, I had read where corms should be planted 6″ below the surface, depending on their size. I knew from locating them in the pot they were, in fact, 6″ or so deep… SO, that is the depth I returned them at.
One reason you need to plant the corms so deep is because the soil is what will anchor the plant until the roots start to grow. The roots grow from the top of the corms AFTER the leaves start growing… The growing plant uses energy from the corm which basically vanishes. SO, you don’t want to water the soil because it could cause the bulb to rot… Over the summer, a new corm will develop.
The top of the corms are slightly concave with a sprout in the center and the bottom is round like a bowl. One video I watched said to plant your bulbs slightly tilted so water won’t collect in the concaved area on the top of the bulb. Well, I didn’t do that and just planted them flat. The same video says to use slightly moistened potting soil, while other information says not to water until the stem emerges… The guy in the video also used potting soil with timed-release fertilizer and added more fertilizer below where he put the corm… Other websites say not to add fertilizer until AFTER the roots start growing.
SO, I used a fresh bag of Miracle Grow Potting Soil, which was slightly damp because it was just opened. I did NOT moisten the soil more. I did not add any more fertilizer… I did NOT water the soil after I was finished…
I put the bigger clump of Oxalis rhizomes in the original pot with several smaller pieces around it. I put a few in each of the bigger pots of Amorphophallus just because they really do look good together. Even though the Oxalis will need watering sooner than the Amorphophallus, there is such a difference in their depths it will be OK. I just don’t want to soak the pot… Mrs. Wagler said she needed more Voodoo plants, so she will get the smaller pots once the plants start growing.
SO, now we shall wait and see what happens…
The bigger Amorphophallus are doing great and were 32″ tall when the above photo was taken on July 15, 2021.
The smaller rhizomes came up and did great so I took them to Wagler’s Greenhouse. I somehow missed a small rhizome and it has come up in the larger pot of Oxalis…
I will continue adding more photos and experiences about this plant as time goes on. If you have any comments or suggestions about this plant, I would like to hear from you.
I found this very interesting article written by an apprentice at Kew titled “Amazing Amorphophallus“. It gives some very interesting information and there are MANY AWESOME photos!
I didn’t take any photos of the Amorphophallus in 2022 but they are alive and well.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.
I will add more links when I decide what species it is.